BOSTON — Jeremy Abbott knew that when he skated off the ice at TD Garden Sunday he would be crying.
“I was going to cry today – good or bad,” he said to reporters.
For Abbott, he wiped tears of joy off his face as he stepped off U.S. ice one last time, set to retire after this season
The 28-year-old backed up a solid short program Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Championships, holding on for first place and seemingly booking himself a spot in his second straight Olympics.
It was teenager Jason Brown who stole the show earlier, skating to “Riverdance” and landing eight triple jumps and finishing to a standing ovation from the crowd before he was even done.
The 19-year-old Brown, who doesn’t have a quad, jumped his way from third to second and will be in the running for the second of two spots the U.S. men are allotted for the Sochi Olympics.
The official team will be announced Sunday night at a press conference at TD Garden.
Abbott, who is coached by former world champion Yuka Sato, cut it close to the one-minute time period skaters are given before starting his free skate, only realizing he needed to begin because the crowd began counting the seconds down. But when he did, he got underway strongly, landing a quad toeloop.
“I have to thank the audience,” Abbott said, laughing. “Without them I would have been disqualified.”
When he finished, Abbott spent a little more time on the ice, savoring the situation.
“I was trying to take it all in,” he said in regards to standing at center ice. “I knew that I skated well enough to win and this was my last national performance. I wanted to try and take a second and appreciate the audience and all the support I’ve had through the years.”
The Colorado native had set an American record in the short program with a score of 99.86. In the free skate, he scored a 174.41, which was lower than Brown’s 182.61, though Abbott held on to win by four points overall.
Max Aaron, champion in 2013, finished third behind Brown by 10 points. The former hockey player could land a place on the team if the selection committee sees his experience – he was in the top eight at the World Championships in March – as having prepared him better for Sochi.
But Brown made his case this season, scoring a medal at the Paris Grand Prix and then a silver here.
“I really have no control at this point whether I’m on the team or not,” Brown told reporters at a press conference. “I didn’t allow myself to consider the Olympics until halfway through this season. Over time I’ve gotten more and more confident that this could be a reality, and each event this year has helped that.”
Abbott, who won the U.S. Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2012 before this year, has struggled on the international stage, placing ninth at the 2010 Vancouver Games and finishing outside the top six in three out of four World Championships appearances.
“Four years ago everything was just about being on the team,” Abbott said. “It was like jumping into an abyss. But after the 2012 season we put a lot of work into our training and into our structure. I believe in it – it’s been paying off very slow and steady.”
1. Jeremy Abbott – 274.27
2. Jason Brown – 270.08
3. Max Aaaron – 260.44
4. Josh Farris – 248.06
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) January 12, 2014